Moy Park strike averted as 4% pay deal agreed

Accord triggered after hundreds of workers walked out of chicken plants

Bosses at Moy Park have agreed a 4 per cent pay deal with trade unions to avoid an all-out strike at one of the North's biggest employers, sources have confirmed.

It is believed the new deal, which was agreed with the Unite trade union, will protect current terms and conditions at Moy Park including workers' shift premiums. The union has more than 3,000 members at Moy Park's Craigavon and Dungannon factories.

It is understood the deal came after hundreds of workers took unofficial strike action, not endorsed by any union, and walked out of the plants which supply a large percentage of chickens for some of the UK's largest supermarket groups including Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsburys and Lidl.

Union leaders had previously warned that relations between Moy Park workers and management had “steadily deteriorated” since the American group Pilgrim’s Pride acquired it in a £1 billion deal last September.

Colorado headquartered

Moy Park employs more than 9,500 people across three sites in the North but Unite said that more than 1,000 of its members who had previously worked for Moy Park had left the company in the last six months.

Last week the Colorado-headquartered Pilgrim’s Pride reported net sales of $2.75 billion and an operating income of $202 million for the first quarter of 2018.

Bill Lovette, chief executive officer of Pilgrim's Pride, said the group was already seeing "positive results" from the integration of Craigavon headquartered Moy Park into the overall business and had gained a "significant share" at a key customer as a result of the acquisition.

But Mr Lovette has also stressed that Pilgrim’s is still intent on making $50 million in annual cost savings at Moy Park over the next two years.

“The operational improvements initiatives are also going well and we are slightly ahead of our $50 million synergy target for the next two years. Based on the success of the previous integrations, we continue to believe we have the method and the team to continue to grow the profitability and potential of our European business,” he told investors.

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business